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It is not unusual to get differing opinions, and there are several reasons why this happens. But the point is you will be making a decision you are responsible for, that you will truly live. Therefore you need to make it right. You are the CEO of this team. Your job is to be informed enough to understand what is known, what can’t be known, and how to avoid the larger risks one cannot come back from while pursuing what can help you. This is a great art form, and harder to do when you are ill.

Why do opinions conflict? There are four main reasons.

First when there is not one treatment of choice, which is often the case when many therapies are being tried, but it is not known what the best choice is.
Secondly, very different treatments may be recommended in different areas of the country because of training traditions and other factors.
Thirdly, new treatments will be adopted by some physicians because they offer new hope. And they will be avoided by others because they are not yet proven.
And fourthly, the healthcare system trying to hold down costs in a way that may influence treatment decisions

You need to have these problems in mind, so that you can get your opinions in a way that balances out the issues.

How do you resolve the conflict? To do this, see conflict as a sign you can improve with the right choices. But also it is a sign to be cautious about treatment with too many complications.
The more worrisome your dilemma is, the more you need to read on your problem. Even for physicians, this is a never ending process to be up to date, and to understand better the practical tradeoffs of each choice. Then ask professionals you know in the area about the problems. These can be physicians, nurses or other paraprofessionals.

Ask patients who have been through treatment, but be sure you are comparing apples to apples. Many times it is hard to realize what the other patient's problem was and what the treatment was.

Now, list carefully questions for each physician, in order to understand they other recommends. And, are there further tests to clarify the confusion in your case?

Once your have worked your way through all that, ask yourself these questions:
1) Have I benefited from all possible conservative therapy?
2) What are the worst risks in each treatment course?
3) Are there irreversible steps, ones that can't be recovered from, or preclude other treatment later?
4) If each treatment has some partial effect, have they been combined in the optimal combination?

© PowerPatient, FIND, 2003, 2004